CARE Women's Network Trip to Ecuador

CARE Women's Network Trip to Ecuador

Publication info

Monica Merlis

In Ecuador, 8 out of 10 women have experienced some form of violence. On Sunday, November 12th, members of the CARE Women’s Network of New York and Chicago kicked off a weeklong trip through Ecuador to get a closer look at the project they’re supporting, Women Living Free of Gender Based Violence.

Together, we traveled to various parts of the country, meeting with women who had been victims of abuse – powerless and vulnerable – and had found their voices – standing up for themselves and other women. We began in Muisne, an enchanted island near the heart of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador in April 2016. Violence had increased in the last year as women who went to shelters after the disaster were vulnerable and too often subjected to sexual abuse. We also met with women and men representing the Afro-Ecuadorian community, the indigenous community, refugees, and domestic workers. They have all been active participants in CARE’s education, advocacy, and empowerment programs. This includes an online training launched earlier this year, which focuses on gender and women’s rights, what is gender based violence, explanation of their human rights as women as well as Ecuadorian laws protecting their rights, and how they can get involved in community activism to ensure their rights. Everyone who completes the training with a passing grade receives a certificate from our university partner. With each visit, we were even more inspired by the growing movement of women (and men) working to shift social norms around violence, as well as educate others on the impact of psychological and economical abuse. We also met with CARE’s partners in the government, who were gearing up to approve a law on November 25th to better protect the rights of women, especially around gender based violence.

Joeli, a refugee from Colombia, bravely shared her story with us. While she thought violence outside of the home was wrong, after 23 years of marriage, she had come to view it as acceptable inside of the home. With her husband, she traveled to Ecuador in search of a better life. She quickly joined a CARE-supported group for displaced women, where she realized that physical, sexual, and emotional abuse is not normal and not something she should accept any longer. Feeling empowered, she built up the courage to leave her husband and become an advocate for women’s rights. It’s only been 4 months and it is not easy, but she is working as a breadmaker and feels so much stronger knowing that her and her children no longer have to live in fear. 

A theme of hope built up over the course of the week, as well as a strong drive to continue to raise awareness and support for this vital cause. If you are interested in contributing to the CARE Women’s Network’s supported project, Women Living Free of Gender Based Violence, you may click here to make a donation.

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In November 2017, members from the CARE Women’s Network of New York and Chicago visited Ecuador to get a closer look at the project they’re supporting, Women Living Free of Gender Based Violence.